Monday, September 28, 2015

Yale Bulldogs (1979-82)

Yale uniforms, of course, have changed glacially over the years, so us uniform observers tend to get excited at the most mundane changes from teams such as the Bulldogs. By 1980, Yale was phasing out the striped socks and they were gone altogether by '81. If there were message boards in the early '80s, there no doubt would have been posts such as: "OMG!! Yale got rid of striped sox! WTF Were they thinking?!?"

Yale in action against UConn in 1980.
Note that No. 5 has white socks and No. 48 has striped socks.
This would prompt an Internet flamewar today.

Black shoes were also phased out during this period; the above graphics show black shoes for '79 and white shoes for '80, but both colors were worn during those seasons.

Yale's best player in this year was a guy named Diana -- Rich Diana, who's still sixth on the Bulldogs' all-time rushing list despite playing only three years. He ran for 1,442 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1981; both numbers were well over half his career total.

Rich Diana (No. 33) in action against Navy in '81.

Want more from the sons of old Eli? Look here: 201420131997-981994, 199619781974-77,  1967-681965, 1959-60. Rivalry Week: Harvard-Yale.

When I first saw this picture, I naturally thought it was a reference
to Charles and Diana's royal wedding, which happened in '81.
Nope, just some fans cheering on a Yale star in a game considered
worthy enough to be on ABC. Can you imagine an Ivy League team
on ABC these days?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cornell Big Red (1985-89)

The daring Cornell uniform first introduced by former coach Bob Blackman in 1977 was gradually neutered as the 1980s turned into the '90s. First the "CORNELL" helmets with the funky stripes went bye-bye; in '85 the curved jersey numbers were the next to go. In 1990 the big "CORNELL" across the front vanished and in '91 the wide-striped pants were replaced with, er, different wide-striped pants.

A Cornell kicker attempts a field goal in 1985.
Remember when barefoot kickers were the big fad?
Those feet probably needed some serious icing after the game.

The Cornell home uniform, c. 1986.
So what you see here is a transitional uniform, one of several from the post-Blackman era. The curved "NCAA"-style numbers were replaced with the "Champion" font popular in football from the 1960s until about the mid-90s. Names were added in 1986 -- a rarity for the Ivy League -- and remained until the late '90s.

Can get enough from the Big Red? Check out these uniforms: 2013-141999-20011994, 1983-841977-821967-7519651961-64. Rivalry week: Cornell-Penn.

I saw this oddity on an eBay listing recently.
It looks like a stripped-down version of the mid-80s jersey.
I suspect it's either a practice jersey,
a sprint football (150-poiunds and under) jersey or both.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Boston University Terriers (1990-92)

Another team that added black trim out of nowhere (see our previous post) was the late, great Boston University Terriers, who thankfully didn't add so much that they started resembling the rival Northeastern Huskies. (I've heard NU fans used to chant "where's your football?" at BU fans at hockey games after BU canceled the program in '97. After Northeastern canned football in '09, both sides started chanting "where's your football" at each other.)

This 1992 program shows the 1990 uniform, with the double-outlined numbers
and the terrier head logo on the helmet.

In '90, the "terrier head" logo returned to the helmets after after an absence of a couple years, but the jerseys, which featured those now-dated double-outline numbers, retained the look of the late '80s. The black trim debuted in '91 on the home jerseys and crept onto to the rest of the uniform in '92. By '95, the black trim had vanished.

The '91 uniform is shown on the '92 media guide cover.
Unfortunately, the players have rolled up their sleeves so you can't see the black trim.

The back of the '93 media guide has a nice shot of the back
of the '92 uniform. These pics are all from eBay listings, BTW.

Alas, the team wasn't too hot under coach Dan Allen: 5-7, 4-7 and 3-8. In '93, the helmets went blank ... and the Terriers won the Yankee Conference title and reached the first of two straight NCAA I-AA (FCS) tournaments under Allen. 

Want some more unis from a gone-but-not-forgotten program? Look here: 19971988-891984-871968-70, 1963-64.

This is a neat cover. Those are the '92 uniforms in the picture;
once the season started, the helmets went blank and a Yankee Conference
logo was added to the jersey fronts.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dartmouth Big Green (1978-86)

When a team adds a black alternate jersey, it'll often make the bizarre claim that it's somehow honoring the heritage of the team (see exhibit A: the San Francisco 49ers). "Well, our team wore a black stripe on the socks in 1931, so it's been part of our tradition since the Depression, so by wearing black jerseys we're really honoring our heritage and tradition, right ... right?"

OK, I made that quote up, but you get the point. It's really all about looking intimidating while generating buzz and marketing dollars. Just when you think the black uniform craze (going strong for more than two decades now) is dying out, it seems to get new life. 

As pointed out in our last post, THREE Ivy League teams have added black jerseys for this season: The Harvard Crimson, the Dartmouth Big Green and the Columbia Lions (who traditionally wore Columbia blue). I was hoping Brown would add a black alternate, try to pass off as the Black Bears and invite a lawsuit from Orono, but instead chose a classy look for 2015.)

Dartmouth, thankfully, has not gone around talking about black's grand tradition in the Big Green's color scheme (perhaps because the team went 6-14 in this outfit years ago). But Dartmouth's first use of black trim came in 1978, Joe Yukica's first year as coach. The oversize numbers and sleeve patches of the Bob Blackman/Jake Crouthamel years were discarded for a more contemporary look. A black face mask was added in '83.

A pair of Dartmouth media guide covers. Nineteen eighty-six was the
last year the books were small enough to stuff in your back pocket.

Dartmouth won a pair of Ivy League titles under Yukica, then entered a steady decline, followed by a messy firing and lawsuit that would hog up the memory of any Kindle in order to document it properly.

Wide receiver David Shula takes off against Cornell in 1978.
The son of legendary coach Don Shula later coached the NFL Bengals
and now runs a steakhouse chain with his family. 

From the back of cover of the 1987 media guide, which uses '86 photos.

Coach Joe Yukica and his troops, c. 1985.
When Buddy Teevens took over in '87, the entire uniform -- included the famed "D" helmet -- was scrapped.

Some other Big Green unis we've profiled: 201420132005-06, 2003-0419701955-561951-541936-38. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton.

This really awesome 16-page book chronicles Dartmouth's 1978 Ivy championship season.
Coach Joe Yukica is at top right, and No. 5 is future coach (then quarterback) Buddy Teevens.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Columbia Lions (2015)

Columbia had an awesome uniform the last two years, but a lousy team (0-20). So the Lions, under new coach Al Bagnoli, tossed the baby out with the bathwater and changed unis a bit ... OK, a lot.

For those keeping score at home, this makes three Ivy League teams that have made a fade to black this season, along with Dartmouth and Harvard. I'm sure the idea is to strike more fear in the hearts of opponents, because that worked so well for UMass (2-22 with Charley Molnar's black unis) a few years back. Really, I think it's kinda silly for teams to add black when it has little or no history in their uniforms (especially when you have Crimson or Green in your names) but hey, it's what the kids like these days, right?

You can see the video of the Columbia uniform unveiling here

Some Columbia unis that actually have Columbia blue in them: 201420132003-0519961974-761971-7319701965-67.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Princeton Tigers (1987-90)

Princeton's uniforms underwent some small modifications from earlier in the decade: The numbers were now a bright orange at home and the roads featured black shoulders and sleeves, which made for a very busy shirt; I recall one of the high schools in Maine had a similar jersey when I was growing up (Biddeford? They're the Tigers ...). The white shirts went to a more streamlined look in 1990.

A couple shots of the Princeton Tigers, c. 1987.
No. 11 is future Superman and TV host Dean Cain.

Some other items about the Tigers during this period:

* The '87 jerseys featured an "R.A.R." patch in memory of coach Ron Rogerson, who died of a heart attack shortly before the '87 season; he coached at Maine, his alma mater, in the early 1980s.
* The quarterback in 1987 was actor Dean Cain, of Superman fame and Ripley's Believe It Or Not! quasi-fame.
* The quarterback in 1988 was future Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who transferred to Princeton from Columbia with his brother, running back Judd after their father, Jim was outsted as Columbia's coach in 1985; he once compared his players to "drug-addicted losers."
* Jason Garrett was on the wrong side of history when he was the losing quarterback in Columbia's 16-13 win over Princeton in October 1988 to snap a then-NCAA Division I-record 44-game losing streak.

The future Cowboys coach in action.

On the prowl for more Princeton? Check these out: 2014201319961993-95,1994, 1984-861975-771979-83, 1970-72. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Harvard Crimson (1948-49)

Recently, Harvard unveiled a revamped uniform that includes a black alternate jersey. Why a team called the "Crimson" has phased out crimson in favor of black as its primary sports color is a good question, but that's a debate for another time. 

There is a precedent for black as a primary color, as in 1948-49, Harvard coach Arthur Valpey ditched the traditional (even then) crimson helmets and tan/gold pants for black helmets and pants. As for what happened ... Well, let me quote Bruce Wood in the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (aka The Greatest Book Ever; who cares if it's 10 years old):

"A former Michigan assistant coach, Valpey brought with him a variation of the Wolverines' distinctive winged-helmet design, as well as new uniforms featuring black nylon pants and crimson socks. After his second season ended with a 1-8 record and no Ivy wins, Valpey and his uniforms were canned."

This Harvard-Cornell program from 1949
shows the black pants in all their "glory."

Also of note: The Red Sox-style numbers on the home jerseys, which lasted into the 1950s; I know of no other football team ever wearing their numbers like this. Just me, but I prefer them on baseball shirts. You'll also notice that some, but not all, of the helmets had a extra horizontal line around the crown.

Harvard (in white) takes on Stanford in the 1949 season opener.
You'll be shocked to know the Crimson lost, 44-0.

But wait, there's more! Other Harvard unis you may have missed: 2012-14; 2008-111980-831975-79; 1972-731967-701962-63. Rivalry Week: Harvard-Yale.

Harvard takes on Brown (top) and Army (above) in 1949.
Note the Red Sox-style numbers on the jersey backs, if you look closely.
The photos are from the phenomenal Digital Commonwealth site,
where you can get lost for hours exploring images from Massachusetts history.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Hampshire Wildcats (1976-77)

When I was in college, I acquired a Maine sports yearbook from 1978 that featured pictures from a football game against New Hampshire the previous season. I was pretty shocked to discover that the '77 Wildcats dressed almost exactly like the '97 Wildcats.

The uniform actually goes back a little bit further. In 1976, when UNH reached the NCAA D-II tournament for the second straight season, the Wildcats unveiled a classic uniform that went virtually unchanged for a quarter-century. 

The 1976 UNH Wildcats take in the action.
Most of these pictures are from the 1977 Granite yearbook.

UNH used the rather bland look of 1974-75 as a template and built upon it with red trim and names on the home jerseys, which seemed to take their cue from the 1970s Buffalo Bills. Helmet numbers were out; a classy "NH" logo was in. It was a fresh look for a team that was experiencing its first blush of success as a national powerhouse. 

Names on the back! Now you know you're in the big time.
The Wildcats tackle a BU runner.

A diamond-shaped "NH" logo went back decades (and still appears on throwback merch)  but it was a longer, almost football-shaped version that debuted on the helmets. 

In '78, a trim change was made on the home sleeves ... and that was the last significant change for a long time. There were some small alterations in name and number fonts, logo size and sock color, but that was about it. Really, only Yale and Delaware can surpass UNH for consistency. (Harvard, which has had pretty much the same look since 1994, just announced a reboot complete with black shirts and crimson pants, so the Crimson may soon fall out of the running.)

Number 36 belonged to running back Bill Burnham, who left as the school's all-time leading rusher and still ranks second today, no small feat. 

Bill Burnham rumbles past Maine in 1977.

UNH reached the NCAA D-II tournament for the second straight year, only to lose at Montana State. You can read more about that game here.

I love the backdrop to the picture of the left.
I believe that's from the NCAA D-II playoff game at Montana State.
Plenty more Wildcat uniforms: 20142010-13, 2000199819751966-67, 196519501947-48, 1938. Rivalry Week: Maine-UNH.